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Park Trail #66, AZ

no permit
184 19 1
Guide 19 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
2.2 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,660 feet
Elevation Gain 2,343 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,467 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.12
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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10  2019-02-16
Park Creek Falls
10  2017-01-25
Park Creek Falls
10  2016-09-24
Pine Mountain - AZT #21
8  2016-02-18
Park Creek Falls
15  2016-01-17
Park Creek Falls
13  2014-10-18
Sunflower- Camp Reno - Park Trail Loop
37  2011-01-22
Parallel Play Canyon
41  2010-11-20
Parallel Play Canyon
Page 1,  2
Author aaronhales
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 0
Photos 273
Trips 7 map ( 47 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Chandler, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
by aaronhales

Park Trail #66 provides probably some of the easiest access to one of the least-visited areas of the Mazatzals, hence why I chose this trail. There is nothing absolutely spectacular about this trail, but it does lead to some interesting destinations in my opinion.

The trail starts near the end of FR1382 on the east side of the central Mazatzals. Initially I didn't find the trail right away. After parking at the end of the road, one will need to backtrack about 100 feet upon which you will find the trail descending on the south side of road and immediately crossing Park Creek. After you cross the creek, you will finally see some signage for this trail. The trail is pretty faint compared to most I'm used to, but not faint enough that you can't follow it. You can tell this trail does not get a lot of use. About 1/2 mile into the trail, it will start to climb out of the riparian area along Park Creek and enter into typical high desert scenery as it climbs. Spread out to the east before you will be expansive views of Tonto Basin and the Sierra Anchas and the town of Roosevelt below (more populated than I thought).

After about a 1000-1500 feet of climbing, the trail begins to level out and starts to offer some shady relief from the sun. Along this portion of the trail the wildflowers were really out in abundance. I was surprised of how good of close-up shots I could get with the 1.0 megapixel camera I'm using right now. Towards the end of the trail you will cross Park Creek again near it's headwaters. The creek was barely running but still had several large pools. Not even a couple-hundred feet after you cross you will come to the official end of this trail, a total length of about 4 miles with about 2300 feet of elevation gain. The trail ends at a place called Edwards Park-a nice grassy meadow with several large trees. Looks like it'd be (and has been) a great spot for camping.

Edwards Park is also the terminus of FR422 that runs south from this point along the crest of the Mazatzals about 11 miles until it connects with FR143 (Four Peaks road). You can either decide to turn around at Edwards Park or keep going on FR422 which is what I decided to do. It was nice and flat so I figured "why not?". I'm glad I did, it's interesting up along the crest of the southern Mazatzals. Although no pine forests, there are some huge trees up there, particulary oak and juniper. You also can take in distant views of the Four Peaks. I figured a good stopping point would be where the Boulder Creek Trail (part of the AZT) hooks up with FR422. This is probably 2 miles past Edwards Park. At this juncture you will have a closeup view of Boulder Mtn. On the way back, I noticed what appeared to be water cisterns of some sort. Looks like there is some ranching done up here, didn't see any cows though. Only thing to note on the way back is a view of Mt. Ord's south side and some more wildflowers.

All in all, I enjoyed the trail. It offered enough variety and complete solitude. The distance and time listed for the trail is up to Edwards Park only.

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2004-04-07 aaronhales
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Park Trail #66
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Took Rosie out for a little exploration. We stopped at Deer Creek TH first and started up Gold Ridge before I changed my mind. Decided I'd rather see water instead of just snow. I knew Park Creek was close and had never been so off we went. The turnoff from 188 (FR409 I think) was in great shape despite recent weather. Park Creek was raging at the TH / crossing. Park Trail was wet and muddy but well cairned and fairly clear of brush. A nice waterfall came into view shortly after gaining elevation. I could hear water at practically every turn. We didn't hit snow on the trail until about 4600ft. At the turnoff down to the upper creek / falls area snow turns to mud and quicksand while catclaw and it's friends become more numerous. I'm not one to complain but wear pants! I didn't and my legs took a beating on the off-trail parts. There's a ton of water currently. Every drainage was running and big waterfalls loomed in almost every direction. The views of Ord, Tonto Basin, the Rim and Anchas were nice as well. Temps were in the 40s and the sun was hidden most of the day. We cherished every minute of sunshine. We explored the falls area going up canyon first before heading down toward the big falls. I took a spill right before the fixed rope / dropoff. One of those quick, no time to react moments and I was on my back on a wet rock slab next to a rushing creek. Left knee and elbow took the blow. Following Chumley's route, we attempted to bypass the falls and get to a better vantage point but it wasn't happening with Rosie tagging along. I had to help her up a couple short climbs and eventually the bushwacking became too much for her. She's a trooper for enduring what she did. We settled on a sunny overlook on the hill. Both had a snack, I had a cold beverage and we soaked in all the beauty before heading back the way we came. Definitely a nice destination right now with all of the water. Lots of Deer sign but to my surprise we didn't see any wildlife other than some quail and a few other birds. I'm willing to return without the dog and see what else this place has to offer.
Park Trail #66
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After lazily sitting on the couch watching football on Saturday I was happy when Joel suggested a 6-7 mile hike on Sunday. He neglected to mention the 3000 feet of gain. ](*,)

I'm not sure what the term is -- must be related to bucket list -- but different. In any case, I'm glad to get it checked off while hoping to never again have to hike in the snow through catclaw (two things that should never occur together). Add off-trail and after dark and one wonders why more people don't come here! :lol:

Ultimately, it was a fantastic day. Awesome water flow in the entire canyon. Plenty of amazing cascades, along with the incredible waterfalls downstream. I'm impressed by the canyoneer folks who rappel down this thing. It's impressive.

Love to see the water flow at this time of year. Hopefully that el nino thing happens because except for a 5-day stretch two weeks ago, it's been a whole lot of sunny.
Park Trail #66
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Sunflower- Camp Reno - Park Trail Loop
I've been looking for a way to loop the Bushnell Tanks, Park trail and FR422. I drew up a route on HAZ and away we went.
Fan & I started about 7:30 and the weather was very cool. We came across two hunters who had spotted a bear in the area.

Soon we were hiking down the backside of MT.Ord on FR524. We hopped off of FR524 to an old ATV trail that took us close enough to the Camp Reno. We bushwhacked around a bit before hitting the Camp Reno road. Fan took a break as I explored around Camp Reno.

Park Trail #66
We topped off our water at the Park creek. We knew it was going to be warm climbing up in the sun.
The Park trail is no "walk in the park". The trail goes from 2,700 feet to 5,000+. There is little shade. The lower part is easy to follow. But once you get to 4,000 foot range, it changes. The tall grass hides the trail and cairns. We keep on missing the trail and bushwhacked back to it. We started to dread the HAZ split stats because we slowed down to a mile an hour!
The trail is there, it's just the tall grass increases the route finding. After a couple of hours we made it to the Edwards park. Now that is a one great park!

We headed down the AZT to a point where we bushwhacked to a series of abandoned Jeep roads that lead us back to the Jeep.

We were amazed at the amount of flowing water everywhere. The song that keep playing in my head was the "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". The verse was “Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink" Except it was good potable water. The 1st mile of FR22 was wet and overgrown with plants. This area got hit with a lot of rain. It looks like the road moved again.
Park Trail #66
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AKA Park Creek Falls in the hiking community.

Well a climbing trip fell thru when a partner got sick, so Michael & I fell back on this canyon as a backup. After doing Parker Canyon, we'd been talking about the flow of snow runoff down this equally amazing canyon across the lake. Susan's plans fell thru also, so she was a last minute addition than morning. Gotta love the fluidness of canyoneering! :D

With 200ft ropes & full wetsuits, we slogged up the Park trail passing a hunter with a recent kill of a beautiful bobcat. ;) The views of Tonto Basin were amazing, but we were so glad to be done climbing up the mountainside and dropping into the lightly flowing canyon. :y: Geared up, rock hopped a bit downstream, and made the first 40ft drop. A little further downstream is the amazingly HUGE ~250ft waterfall. :o The creek oddly went underground here and came out a crack in the wall about 100ft from the bottom. This is a mulit-stage rappel and the first drop is about 150ft down that slick angled chute and then head to a midway ledge on the right (looking up canyon). Once all down on the ledge, we pulled the ropes while soaking in this super sweet waterfall & rigged the anchors for another ~100ft drop into the hallway below. From this amazing waterfall, we again pulled the ropes, and made another 20ft drop into a chilly swimmer. Wow, that was flipping amazing! :D A little further downstream, we hit a second huge multi-stage drop past a series of falls & cascades. :y: It starts off with a 40ft drop past a huge chockstone to the top of the main falls, but we rappelled 100ft into a dry grotto on the rightside. That put us down to a ledge with a few options, but the quickest way is to down climb the slick flowing chute and wade another chilly pool. That was the end of the rappels, but we left the gear on until we knew we were done with the cold pools. ;) Loads of rock hopping, some more down climbing, and a few pools to try and avoid as we continued down canyon until we felt confident enough to drop the gear and put on some dry clothes. :) The canyon slowly opened up and eventually we popped out of the mountains and into the flat Tonto Basin where we got out of the rocky canyon and bushwhacked back to the TH. :sweat:

Such a great short & sweet canyon that I'm glad to have come back and caught when it was flowing on this relatively dry winter (so far). :D
Park Trail #66
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Wow, yet another amAZing canyon tucked away in the Mazatzals. :y: AKA as Park Creek Falls in the hiking world. I wanted to do a dry run down this canyon on a warm fall day to get a feel for the canyon before heading back next spring to catch it flowing from snow runoff. : rambo :

The road is looks to be recently graded so my car made it in no problem. Like Preston says, the trail receives little maintenance and is overgrown with thorny bushes as you climb 2000ft in 2 miles but nothing that my half shredded canyoneering pants & shin guards can't handle. ;) Once a little past Pyramid Peak, I bushwhacked down to the dry creek and soon reached that first day fall. The upper creekbed had a few clear pools but nothing I couldn't thankfully avoid since I didn't bring the wetsuit in order to make hauling two 200ft ropes up the mountain a tad easier. :sweat: Geared up and dropped down that first 40ft rappel to the rocky creekbed. I left the rope in place to run down and check the anchors for the big rappel #2 & after finding some interesting yet solid anchors I rock hopped back up and pulled the rope. The main falls is actually more like sloping 225-250ft drop. :o About 150ft down, there's a ledge on the left LDC with another anchor to rappel from but you need to angle that way on rappel in order to reach it. Midway down I threw the rope the rest of the way to get a feel for the length and there looked to be another 25-50ft of drop past the ropes end before reaching the hallway at the bottom. So I pulled the rope and setup from the ledge anchors and dropped another ~100ft into that super sweet hallway. There's another 20ft drop out of the hallway and another set of anchors in there also but I decided to snap some quick photos and continue on using the same anchors from above. There's a cold knee-high pool to wade and from across the way after a little bit of struggling I was able to get a good angle and make the rope pull. In hindsight, It might be best to just make the rope pull from the hallway and get an additional rappel, especially if the water is flowing descent. I gave this canyon an extra R due to this huge mulit-stage rappel and it's exhilerating enough when it's dry and can only imagine how sweet it is when it's flowing. :D A pool around the corner I avoided and then you're faced with a 3rd falls with a few different options though they might be more limited when its flowing. I found an anchor on the left side that was shreeded and easily came loose when I test pulled it :o plus it dropped down almost into a tree. So I went back to try another way and choose the middle option. I ended up build an anchor and dropping down 20ft thru a tight chute to get past that huge chockstone and found myself on top of the next set of anchors. Hmm, looks like an interesting one... I rappelled under a chockstone hanging there so that the rope pull would be easier and continued down that angled chute a good 100ft before reaching a ledge flat. Hmm, no anchors down here but it looks down climbable so I pulled the rope, scrambled down, and waded across another knee-high pool. It looked like that was the end of the technical section, as it was, but I kept the gear on in case I ran into something further down canyon. No more rappels, but I did do some light down climbing and loads & loads of rock hopping while enjoying more fall colors. :sweat: Eventually I reached a flat bench on the side of the creek that I could scramble up and made pretty good time weaving thru the brush back to the TH while enjoying the sweet view of the Tonto Basin.

Now that I know the canyon better I could prob shave an hour from todays time but I suspect that flowing water would add another hour or two on top of that. ;)
Park Trail #66
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Hiked on the Park Trail to the 4800 foot level, left the trail, and went down to Park Creek itself. The creek was flowing well with snowmelt. Followed it downstream to get to a 160 foot waterfall I saw on the topo map. With one arm around a juniper branch, I leaned over the edge of the 160 foot deep abyss and took some pictures of the big sloping waterfall. On the way back, a big rock rolled over my foot. In pain, I carefully hiked out, getting back just after dark. Thus ended my Park Creek adventures.
Park Trail #66
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Went hunting seasonal waterfalls up here again, found three waterfalls and an Indian ruin (small, nothing to see really). Went into a side canyon just south of the Park Trail with a friend, to show him a 60 foot waterfall. As we were hiking along a steep hillside (off-trail), John suddenly grabbed my shirt and pulled me backwards. A split second later, the refrigerator-sized boulder above me that I had held on to for balance rolled right in front of me and down the slope, destroying bushes and trees in its' path. John had seen the boulder start to move, I hadn't. Had a close call that day. Hiking off trail can sometimes be dangerous...

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Beeline, go south on SR188 13 miles to FR409. Go right and follow 1.8 miles to short spur road FR1382. Turn left and follow 1/8 mile to trailhead. Easily passable to passenger car. Wouldn't recommend it though if it was muddy.
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